‘PIL Activist’ Prashant Bhushan has been found guilty on charges of Contempt of Court by the Supreme Court of India. The order was passed by a three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra. The proceedings were initiated suo moto by the Court following tweets by the activist on the 22nd and 29th of June.
Amusingly enough, while contempt of court proceedings were on against him, Prashant Bhushan along with Arun Shourie and N Ram moved the Supreme Court challenging the law criminalising the same. In the end, however, the Court permitted the petitioners to withdraw the petition and directed them to take the matter up in the High Court at a later point in time if they so wished.
However, as it so happens, it does not appear that Prashant Bhushan has always been opposed to the law criminalising contempt of court. One does tend to get the impression that it is only when he was himself under the scanner that the former AAP politician realised the demerits of the law. Thus, in the past where he saw many virtues, now he only saw unbearable injustice.
For instance, when former Justice of the Calcutta High Court CS Karnan was jailed by the Supreme Court on charges of contempt of court, Prashant Bhushan hailed the landmark decision where a sitting High Court judge was sentenced to imprisonment for the first time. The activist was ‘glad’ with the decision, as he himself announced on social media in May 2017.
Similar in 2019 during the CBI vs CBI row, Prashant Bhushan had declared that then interim chief of M Nageshwar Rao had committed contempt of court by changing the investigating officer in a case.
There are several incidents in the past where Prashant Bhushan had claimed that others had committed the offence of contempt of court. But when the same law was applied against him, he went ahead to challenge the law itself.
Quite evidently, Prashant Bhushan and those with sympathies towards him belong to the school of thought where it is conventional wisdom that laws should apply selectively against their detractors. They appear to have the impression that they are somehow above the laws that apply to the rest of the citizens of the country due to their self-proclaimed inherent moral superiority.
Contempt proceedings against Prashant Bhushan over defamatory tweets
Earlier, the Supreme Court of India took Suo Moto against Prashant Bhushan’s reckless behaviour on social media and initiated contempt of Court case against him and Twitter India. The apex court issued a show-cause notice to the senior advocate asking him to explain why actions should not be taken against him on contempt of court charges.
The court has also asked Attorney General KK Venugopal to assist the court, in the case, and a notice for the same has been issued to the AG. A three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra heard the suo moto case against Prashant Bhushan. The court stated that the case been filed against Prashant Bhushan for his tweet on last 4 CJIs, and another tweet on CJI riding a bike.